New AIHW report shows ageing population not bankrupting country just yet

Health expenditure Australia 2010-11, published today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that expenditure on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme was stable despite spending on overall medicines growing by $2.1 billion.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the report was further evidence that while patients were spending more on over-the-counter medicines, PBS spending was well under control.

“While people have been warning that the ageing population will bankrupt the country, these figures on Australia’s health spending suggest that the sky isn’t falling on our heads any time soon,” Dr Shaw said.

“The report shows that PBS expenditure is fairly flat. The PBS grew just 1.6 per cent in real terms and the proportion of patient contribution to PBS costs actually fell.

“In the same period overall spending including over-the-counter medicines grew by 28 per cent.

“The total reported expenditure on medicines includes not just prescription medicines but also over-the-counter products from vitamin pills to cough syrups and condoms.

“It tells us consumers are self-selecting and choosing to spend more on over-the-counter products, at a time when spending on prescription medicines remained stable.

“At a growth rate of 1.6 per cent, PBS spending failed to keep up with economic growth and recorded its lowest growth rate in more than a decade.

“This data should give health economists and finance ministers and a very clear message that Government spending on the PBS is being well contained.

“The report also shows that as a proportion of GDP total health expenditure actually fell by 0.1 of a percentage point, or $1.4 billion.

“That completely confounds the dire picture painted by the Government’s Intergenerational Reports.

“The bottom line is that despite concerns about an ageing population, Government spending on health is down and spending growth for the PBS is negligible.”


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